Category Archives: Sacred Liturgy & Sacraments

O loving and sustaining Lord: in honor of Saint Charles Borromeo

St Charels Borromeo2.jpg1. O loving and sustaining Lord, 
A joyful song your people raise 
On this, our patron’s festive day 
And sing your love in thankful praise. 

2. A bishop faithful to your word, 
A pastor loving to the sheep, 
Charles preached the Gospel truth to all, 
And strove th’Apostles’ faith to keep. 

3. A lover of the Cath’lic faith, 
He worked to build within his see 
A knowledge and a love of God 
That all in Christ be fully free. 

4. His tireless striving for the poor 
Was modeled on the Christ, his Lord; 
He taught the doubter and the lost 
And brought the beggar to his board. 

5. All glory, Lord, to you we sing, 
And thanks for Charles your bishop bring, 
As we the Father now adore 
And Holy Spirit, evermore. 

J. Michael Thompson 
Copyright © 2009, World Library Publications 

No such thing as a dead saint

The expression “a living saint” can be misleading. Certainly, we have encountered people in our own lives who fit that description, as best as we can judge. The Holy Church makes the final decision about saints. We celebrate them especially on All Saints’ Day, and on All Souls’ Day, we pray for our loved ones who are drawing more closely into the aura of holiness. The saints on the calendar are only the tip of the iceberg, and most of the saints who have ever existed are known to God alone. Perhaps churches should have a shrine to “The Unknown Saint” quite as we have a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. All Saints’ Day is rather like that.


St. Simon Stylites.jpgMy point, though, is that there is no such thing as a dead saint.There are saints alive now, and there are saints who have physically died, but all are alive in Christ and they are “busy” in heaven, to use a temporal metaphor. Some saints capture the popular imagination more in one generation than in another. For instance, St. Simon Stylites was admired in Syria in the fifth century for spending most of his life seated on top of a pillar. That is not a useful model for our day, although some may still remember Flagpole Kelly, and not long ago thousands of New Yorkers went to watch a man spend a week on top of a column up the street in Bryant Park.


Millions are drawn to Padre Pio, and some are compelled by an unmeasured fascination with his miraculous spiritual gifts, which were blessings indeed, rather than emulating his heroic humility and discipline. There remains an astonishing cult of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. She was almost the reverse of St. Pio: totally St Therese of the Child Jesus.jpgunknown in her earthly lifetime, and accomplishing nothing conspicuous to her contemporaries. She would have remained such had not her spiritual writings been discovered and published. Perhaps she fascinates precisely because in just barely 24 years on earth, she did the most ordinary things with most extraordinary joy. Whenever her relics are taken on pilgrimage to foreign lands (not to mention the one that was taken on a space shuttle), hundreds of thousands pour out to pray by them. This happened most recently in England, where the media were confounded by the huge crowds.


Concurrent with that phenomenon, there were astonishing developments in long-moribund Christian life there, not least of which was the announcement of the first papal state visit to Britain and the expected beatification of John Henry Newman, who predicted a “Second Spring” of Faith in England. Then came news of an Apostolic Constitution, which will provide a unique canonical structure to welcome those desiring union with the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict XVI, who well deserves the title “The Pope of Unity,” has shown the power of the intercessions of the saints.


Rev’d Fr. George Rutler

Church of Our Saviour, NYC

November 1, 2009

All Souls Indulgence

All Souls Mass.jpgEternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let the radiance of your light shine forever upon them (cf. 2 Es 2:35).

V. To you our praise is due in Zion,

O God.

R. To you we pay our vows, you who hear our prayer; to you all flesh will come (Ps 64:2-3).


Requirements for Obtaining a Plenary Indulgence on All Souls Day (November 2 )

– Piously visit a church to pray for the faithful departed

– Say one “Our Father” and the “Creed” in the visit to the church

– Say one “Our Father” and one “Hail Mary” for the intentions of the Pope

– Worthily receive Holy Communion (ideally on the same day)

– Make a Sacramental Confession within a week of (before or after) All Souls Day

– that one be free from all attachment to sin, even venial sin.

Requirements for Obtaining a Plenary Indulgence from November 1 to 8

– Devoutly visit a cemetery and pray for the dead.

– Say one “Our Father” and one “Hail Mary” for the intentions of the Pope

– Worthily receive Holy Communion (ideally on the same day)

– Make a Sacramental Confession within a week of (before or after) All Souls Day

– that one be free from all attachment to sin, even venial sin.

The “technical” things on Indulgences (so that we don’t fall into error)…from the Handbook of Indulgences, Norms:

“1. An indulgence is the remission in the eyes of God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose culpable element has already been taken away. The Christian faithful who are rightly disposed and observe the definite, prescribed conditions gain this remission through the effective assistance of the Church, which, as the minister of redemption, authoritatively distributes and applies the treasury of the expiatory works of Christ and the Saints.”

“22. The prescribed work for gaining a plenary indulgence attached to a church or oratory is a devout visit there, which includes the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed (Pater Noster and Credo), unless otherwise stated in a specific grant.”

“23. 1. Besides the exclusion of all attachment to sin, even venial sin, the requirements for gaining a Plenary Indulgence are the performance of the indulgenced work and fulfillment of three conditions: Sacramental Confession, Eucharistic Communion, and prayer for the Pope’s intentions.

2. Several Plenary Indulgences may be gained on the basis of a single Sacramental Confession; only one may be gained, however, on the basis of a single Eucharistic Communion and prayer for the Pope’s intentions.

3. The three conditions may be carried out several days preceding or following performance of the prescribed work. But it is more fitting that the Communion and the prayer for the Pope’s intentions take place on the day the work is performed.

4. If a person is not fully disposed or if the prescribed work and the three mentioned conditions are not fulfilled, the Indulgence will only be partial …”

5. The condition requiring prayer for the Pope’s intentions is satisfied by reciting once the Our Father and Hail Mary for his intentions (Pater Noster and Ave Maria); nevertheless all the faithful have the option of reciting any other prayer suited to their own piety and devotion.”

From the Handbook of Indulgences, Grants

67. Visiting a Church or an Oratory on All Souls Day
A Plenary Indulgence, which is applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory is granted to the Christian faithful who devoutly visit a church or an oratory on (November 2nd,) All Souls Day.
13. Visiting a cemetery
An indulgence is granted the Christian faithful who devoutly visit a cemetery and pray, if only mentally, for the dead, This indulgence is applicable only to the souls in purgatory.
This indulgence is a plenary one from November 1 through November 8 and can be granted on each one of these days. On the other days of the year this indulgence is a partial one.


All Souls

I heard a voice from heaven saying to me,
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.
Last Judgment RWeyden.jpg
O God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, grant to the souls of Thy servants and handmaids the remission of all their sins, that through our devout prayers they may obtain the pardon which they have always desired.

Saint Joseph [the carpenter] prayed: In my life, O Lord, is at an end; if the moment has come for me to go forth from this world, send unto me Michael the Prince of thine Angels. May he remain beside me that my poor soul may go out of this suffering body in peace, without pain or fear.
(from an Arabian History of Saint Joseph, before the 4th century)

Ember Days at the start of Autumn

but not forgotten in Catholic practice are the observances for Autumn Ember
, the “Four Seasons.” Other ember days are prayed in
December (3rd week of Advent), Lent (after the 1st Sunday of Lent) and after
Pentecost but in its octave. The autumn ember days are observed on the
Wednesday, Friday and Saturday following the Triumph of the Holy Cross
, September 14. This year
the ember days are September 16, 18, & 19. Tradition has also called this
period of prayer, procession, fasting and partial abstinence the Michaelmas
Ember Days

given the proximity to the liturgical memorial of Saint Michael the Archangel
on September 29th.

Farmer's Market.jpg

The occasion for Ember Days are the seasons of the year.
As you would think, each season we give ought to give thanks to God for graces
received and the fruits of the harvest. Ember days are rich in theology and
culture going back a very long time in the Catholic Church, one can argue to
the very early Church where the first fruits were given to the Lord. One might also recall the Jewish customs of prayer and
fasting and purification in the autumn. Those with a strong liturgical bent will recall that before the “reform” of the
missal following the Second Vatican Council the Church had a richer and deeper
understanding of the nature of ember days: each day had their own Mass,
Scripture readings from both Testaments, processions and prayers. Today, ember days are all but forgotten save for a small number of people who bother to read ritual books and liturgical theology and who think these things have import for the contemporary life of the Church.

As we delve
more deeply into our Catholic faith and the various liturgical observances of
thanksgiving, conversion and supplication, we might consider spending time
during these ember days in gratitude to God for what He’s given for our earthly
sustenance asking Him for the grace of conversion. Additionally, I am reminded
with these ember gestures of the recent emphasis on the environment and ecology viz. the faith that Pope Benedict said last week: “
more than ever people must be helped to see in creation something more than a
simple source of wealth or exploitation in man’s hands. The truth is that when
God, through creation, gave man the keys to the earth, he wanted him to use
this great gift responsibly and respectfully, making it fruitful. The human
being discovers the intrinsic value of nature if he learns to see it for what
it really is, the expression of a plan of love and truth that speaks to us of
the Creator and of his love for humanity, which will find its fulfillment in
Christ, at the end of time. In this context it is important to reiterate the
close relationship between protection of the environment and respect for the
ethical requirements of human nature, because when human ecology is respected
within society, environmental ecology also benefits.”

the ember days more fully would allow for a renewed interest in praising God
for creation, the concern of humanity’s proper use of creation and our keen stewardship of nature for future generations.

Cf. “Order of Blessing on the Occasion of Thanksgiving for the Harvest” (Book of Blessings, nos 1007-1023) or in the 3rd volume of Fr Weller’s Roman Ritual. Two prayers from the Maronite book of blessings read:

May God bless + this fruit, those who bring it, present it, and share in it. May the mercy of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, come down upon those who labored to produce this fruit and those who were in any way associated with them. Praised be to God, now and for ever. Amen.


O Lord, your right hand blessed the few loaves of bread in the desert, and through the hands of the prophet Elijah you blessed the jar of wheat and the jug of oil in the house of the widow. May your blessing now come down, through my right hand bless + this house (granary or this wheat or grain) and all the food that it kept here. As you blessed the homes and the reserves of the just of old –Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, and David–shower your abundant blessings upon the yield of your worshipers. We praise you, now and for ever. Amen. 

O Lord, save your people and bless + your inheritance. Feed them, and carry them for ever.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
coat of arms



Humanities Blog Directory